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Hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses likely to hit roads soon

January 23, 2023 09:53 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:10 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Giving a major impetus to the transition from the use of fossil fuels towards clean energy resources, the Indian Oil Corporation has written to the State government seeking its permission to pilot hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses in the State. The Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) research and development (R&D) centre has successfully developed and test-run run 50 Ashok Leyland buses of Delhi Transport Corporation by mixing hydrogen with compressed natural gas (CNG) in order to develop H-CNG.

According to S.S.V. Ramakumar, Director (R&D), IOCL, the trial run was a huge success as it ran the buses for about six months after converting them into H-CNG. Now the Company has written to the Kerala government informing its willingness to provide 10 hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses to the State to pilot a Kerala model in the country. The company has also communicated its willingness to set up a Hydrogen fuel dispensation unit at its own cost. The company requires some land and cheap electricity here, said Mr. Ramakumar.

The State Transport Department has acknowledged that they received a letter from the IOC. As part of this, Kochi Metro Rail Limited has already invited tenders and selected a party to pilot the project here. The availability and price of hydrogen have to be ensured before rolling out the buses. The department will convene a high-level meeting next week to look into the various aspects of the proposal including its viability, said a senior Transport Department officer.

The functioning of hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses is almost equal to electric vehicles. The hydrogen which goes to the fuel cell will produce electricity to propel the vehicle. The fuel cell will work as a battery while hydrogen will act as fuel. In H-CNG buses, Hydrogen will be mixed with CNG up to around 18%. Since it will not have any adverse effect, the trial runs have shown that carbon emission was about 70% less than that of normal fuel, said the officials. The IOC announced the make of the buses and other details during an international conference on e-mobility and alternative fuels held recently in Thiruvananthapuram.

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